A fairly new member with a civil engineering company in Group 6 had been experiencing losses for the last four years. The $5-6M Company had lost $800K, $400K, $200K, and $150K respectively. Morale was very low and seemed impossible to reverse. The member, being an engineer, is very analytical and was reluctant to act. The group had been advising him to right-size, but the pending work that could possibly come in was keeping him from cutting too deeply in manpower. Fear was ruling his decisions. It had come to the point where he would occasionally talk about going back to the farm in Tennessee and escape the whole problem. “I’m not cut out to be a leader…someone else should lead this company.” Finally, having a “father/son” talk with the member, I encouraged him to implement the advice of his group. A few critical moves would put him above the waterline on costs, and a little bit of profit would be a WORLD of difference from a bunch of red ink. After all, the employees had heard of nothing but bad news for so long, and they had lost hope of winning. Some of his employees had NEVER experienced a profitable year. He decided to make the moves.
The cuts were combined with a new strategic push by the member who began aggressively going after local work and avoiding international projects. (While lucrative in theory, they were long shots.) Things began to look up right away, and since the costs were lowered, productivity went up considerably. Sales per employee numbers rose by more than 40% in some cases, until in July profit came in at $200K. While some of that month’s profits had to be adjusted in August, he has been profitable every month since.
Some of the culture change, surprisingly enough, was provided by young new interns, college students or new grads working for $12 an hour. Those four interns will be offered regular employment and added to payroll this month. They are adding lots of energy and will help the company sustain the elevated contract volume for the remainder of the year.
This member's faith has been tested through this ordeal. He really didn’t know how to live out his faith at work. He was never comfortable interfacing with his own people, especially in confronting issues. Early on he took my cue to “Walk the 4 Corners” (W4C/MBWA). It really bothers him, being unnatural behavior, but he believes it is building his relationships and leadership with the flock. He is even praying for people in the business suffering with cancer, etc. Becoming more relational, more strategic, more confrontational, and now making a reasonable profit…his testimony as a Christian business leader is becoming rock solid. It is also showing up in his Convene Team. He has become bolder, more engaged, and is ready to help his fellow members. This is a clear case where assisting a member to better run his business was DIRECTLY responsible for his testimony becoming more credible.
This member is convinced of his calling to be the leader of this company. He is committed to Christ in the business and at home. He is one of the most beloved members of the group now and he has finally honored his group by implementing their advice.